Saturday, 24 September 2016

BP Portrait exhibition 2016

We were lucky to be able to see the BP portrait exhibition at The Usher Gallery in Lincoln last Sunday - it is on until November and the ticket enables you to visit as often as you like, so we hope to go back.  I took lots of photos (without a flash) of the portraits which I particularly liked.  Neither of us were that impressed with the winning portrait and I didn't take a photo of that.  The portrait above is by Jean-Paul Tibbles, of his son Jean.  He is one of the 'poster boys' for the exhibition. 
 This portrait had us discussing what material the artist's daughter had swathed around herself - I felt it was a silk with the blue/green sheen in certain light whereas Chris though it was more like a black plastic.  Whatever it was, it was beautifully painted and reminded me of a Velazquez painting, with the rich colours and dark background.
This is a close up of the sequins on the little girl's bodice.  This is one reason to revisit the exhibition as I neglected to note this artist's name.
This portrait is by the same artist as the one above, of the artist's son who put a bag on his head. 
Chris really liked this portrait.
 This is called 'Portrait in the mirror: the veil' by Antonio Lagua.
 The artist explained that 'the model's reflection became the starting point for work to begin'.  He has captured a really intriguing expression here.
This portrait is called Vacuum 2 by Thomas Ehretsmann as is of his friend Simon.  It is acrylic on wood panel and is incredible - it is hard to believe it is a painted image. 
This is the winner of the BP Travel award, of Petras, by Laura Guoke.  It is a huge painting, which I found quite moving.
The hands were fascinating. 
This was one of my favourite paintings called Alessandra by Daisy Sims-Hilditch and was inspired by the work of John Singer Sargent.  We both thought it would look perfectly at home in a country house - The Honorable somebody or other, daughter of Lord/Earl/Duke whoever! 
 This painting is the 'poster girl' for the exhibition and reminded me of a Waterhouse painting.  It is my absolute favourite as I love the expression and the way it is left sketchy in the background, really focusing on that beautiful face, neck and hand. 
She is the wife of the artist, 'Laura in black' by Joshua Larock. 
I was immediately transported to Wuthering Heights when I looked at this portrait (Mila by Simon Richardson), as she looks to me as Cathy might have looked when she was a girl. 
The portrait of The Rt Reverend & Rt Hon Richard Chartres KCVO Lord Bishop Of London by Elena Vladimir Baranoff was a blaze of colour with the red and gold robes.
It was painted using egg tempera on gesso board and does share the quality of a medieval painting, with its small size and jewel-like colour.  The detail was beautiful.
The portrait of 'Dad Sculpting me' won the BP young artist award.
The portrait of Sir Andrew Motion also stopped me in my tracks.  Looking at the books behind the sitter was interesting, but it was the intense gaze which was so arresting and his eyes definitely followed me.
It seemed as though he might speak at any moment. 
The exhibition showed a huge range of styles of portraiture and shows that there are many extremely talented artists around the world.  It is well worth a visit, or two, or three...  

Thursday, 15 September 2016

More kumihimo necklaces - finally completed

 I have made a few of these kumihimo (Japanese braiding technique) necklaces now and have finally finished three which just needed the ends completing.  I chose colours that I wear at work in the winter.  The purple one above uses 6mm faceted and plain gemstones.
 The blue one uses 6mm faceted and plain gemstones too...
...whereas this blue/green one uses gemstone chips.  I wanted to use the Chartreuse S-Lon cord in a piece of jewellery, so decided to try it out here.
Here's a close up of the purple stones which include amethyst, fluorite, agate, lavender amethyst.

 The blue one has aquamarine, different agates, lapis lazuli and sodalite in it.
The blue/green one has peridot (which matched the Chartreuse cord beautifully), amazonite, apatite and aquamarine.
I really enjoy the repetitive aspect of kumihimo which does become a relaxing and meditative activity.

Update on the wall situation:  the wall man came to have a look at the damage and said that a fence would be cheaper, but a wall could be put back, although not with the old bricks.  However, this would involve foundations four bricks width each side, so would mean the raised border would have to go and I would need to save the plants I wanted and then start again.  We are waiting for the quote...

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

A Dis-arrr-ster (and hoorah for scones)

We have had ivy growing on the Victorian wall which separates our garden from our neighbours' garden for many years.  The owner of the house now rents it out and although he tried to cut back some of the ivy, it really needed a serious amount of controlling.  It was a wonderful food source for insects and birds and provided handy roosting and nesting areas for the birds too, so I didn't want to lose it all, just cut it back, as it overhung our raised bed and all the plants were straining to get some light.  We also thought it needed reducing in height by at least half, so that was the plan.
With our neighbour's help, we attempted to cut some of it away from the house.  Unfortunately, quite a large amount of the ivy came away and a couple of the top stones came off the wall too.  Deciding this was not a good thing, we stopped and got a tree surgeon in to tackle the rest.  Well, the ivy has been cut fact, it had to go altogether, as the wall decided it had had enough and collapsed, right the way down the garden.  The ivy trunks were huge and had pushed the wall out in a couple of places - but possibly it was also helping to hold the wall up.  Some of the wall fell into the neighbour's garden, (which has no plants in it) but unfortunately, some fell into ours, damaging various pots and plants and making a big mess.  On a positive note, no-one was injured and it could have fallen at any time.  So, quite a lot of clearing up took place, and lots of damage limitation pruning.  I had to replace a couple of pots which had been smashed. I was a bit depressed about all the damaged plants, even though Chris did a great salvage job.
We are now waiting for a wall and fencing firm to look at the remains of the wall and give us some advice about replacing it with a new wall, or fence.  As the raised bed in our garden is built against the wall, it could mean a complete re-design of the garden, which could be a great opportunity...but I would have to lose lots of plants.  We shall know more once the wall/fencing firm has visited.
I am sorry to have lost the wall as it provided a lovely backdrop for my plants and stored heat during the day, helping to keep the plants sheltered.
 In other news, we went to our local cake shop to have some cream cakes as a treat, only to find it was too late and they had none left.  Undeterred, I remembered we had some cream in the fridge, so when I got back home, I made a batch of scones.
They were delicious topped with raspberry jam and cream. Hoorah for treats which make us feel just that little bit better!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Steampunk - The Asylum 2016

 The largest Steampunk festival in the world took place over the weekend and a couple of friends were taking part so went went along to meet them and soak up the atmosphere (and gawp at the costumes).  Steampunk is based in Victoriana, but with steam based technology, although, having said that,  there are many interpretations including Goth and Wild West.  It is all-inclusive, all ages and there is a friendly feeling as you walk around, even if you are not taking part.  The main Asylum website is here.  Lots of activities and workshops had been arranged over the weekend - tea duelling seems to be popular!
 Some people had put a lot of work into their costumes.  There were lots of top hats and pith helmets, feathers, frills, corsets and bustles.
Face painting could also be included.
 We loved this man's costume although he did admit to being rather hot and was pleased when the sun went in.
 We watched the Belly Fusion Dance Collective who were appearing at different venues throughout the weekend.
 The steampunked bike drew lots of admiring glances.
 Castle Square was busy and had lots of stalls where steampunk accessories could be purchased.
There was a good atmosphere but it was very crowded.
Here is a link to a news report on the festival.  Chris and I are thinking of taking part next year...maybe.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Late summer flowers

There is a feeling of autumn being just around the corner in the garden.  The stalwarts of late summer are busy flowering, along with a few hangers-on from earlier.  Japanese anemone 'Bressingham Glow' (I think) gives a burst of bright pink.
 The agapanthus I bought last year came through the winter in the shed and has rewarded me with four flowers this year.
Clematis Blue Angel has been lovely,
Crocosmia 'Emily Mackenzie' has made a lovely contrast with the blue of the agapanthus. 
Hibiscus BlueBird reliably flowers throughout August, the exotic looking flowers belying its hardiness.
 My favourite hardy geranium, Rozanne, with the white centre and dark anthers.
 Helianthus Lemon Queen has not been happy this year and the clump has diminished a lot.  Perhaps I need to dig it up and split/replant the best bits.
 Another hibiscus - Woodbridge, I think.
Another shot of the fiery orange and red from the crocosmia.  Still a lot to enjoy, including blueberries and raspberries.  Chris has said he'll make blueberry jam, so that will be interesting!

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Visit to Burghley House (part two) - the Sculpture Garden

 So here is part two of our visit to Burghley House; the Sculpture Garden.  It was a bit of a relief to escape from the shrieking but happy and wet children in the Garden of Surprises and head into the slightly wilder but very lovely park area.  There were areas of wildflowers which were kept in check by metal scalloped edging, which was very effective and the flowers added a much needed splash of colour.
 We all liked these.
 I was rather remiss as I didn't make any notes about any of the sculptures - I just took photos of ones I liked, such as the lifelike stag above.
 The fighting horses were made of willow.
 I wasn't sure whether I liked this - in fact I found it just a little disturbing, although there was a flash of recognition as Lincoln has a stainless steel face by the same artist (Rick Kirby) at the Drill Hall, which is an entertainment venue.
(Photo of the Lincoln Drill Hall face from )
Here it is.  Just one thing - why are they both so grumpy?
I really liked the park area the sculptures were set in and the way different vistas presented themselves as we walked around.  Some of the sculptures are permanent, whereas others were part of a temporary exhibition. 
We spied another stag through the trees and across the lake.
 The canada geese were real.
 Swans were a-swimming and I liked the reflections of the crocosmia.
 This labyrinth had some interesting patterns...
..but then nature can do a good job with patterns on her own.
 The oversized flowers couldn't be ignored.
 I thought the sinuous lines of the reflective metal worked well with the backdrop of green.
 These sculptures were sea-related, with fish tails and shell like forms.
The restful green of all the foliage in this little valley was beautiful.
This sculpture made a gentle melodic noise when the discs were gently tapped, which was an added sensory delight.
We agreed that we had really enjoyed the Sculpture Garden and this was definitely worth visiting.
(I noticed that Phil Spencer is presenting a new series on Stately Homes on More 4 and guess what the first one is?  Yes, Burghley - what a coincidence!  It is on tonight on More 4 at 9.00 pm.  I think I'll be watching!)